Crucial changes have yet to be made
Published 29/04/2011 | 05:00
There are various nettles Health Minister James Reilly could have grasped before yesterday's move on the HSE board. They include:
- Opening closed hospital beds.
There are hundreds of beds closed in hospitals around the country, while patients are still enduring days on trolleys in accident and emergency departments.
Many of these patients are elderly or very ill.
- Demand that hospital consultants pay back the money they owe hospitals for treating too many private patients.
The consultants received higher salaries for a change in terms and conditions including a 20-30pc cap on the ratio of private patients they treat.
Some are still treating 50pc -- they should pay the difference back to the hospital.
- Ease the moratorium on recruitment in areas which are seriously understaffed.
There are sections of the service which are suffering because of of understaffing. These include public health nurses, who are not seeing babies on time for vital developmental checks.
Where re-deployment is not possible more staff should be hired.
- Abolish the prescription charge for medical card holders.
The minister promised to get rid of this, saying it was a disincentive to some patients to take their medication.
If that is so he should waste no more time abolishing it.
- Relax eligibility criteria for medical cards.
As a GP leader, the minister repeatedly called for this.
Thousands cannot afford to go to see their doctor for a basic consultation. Currently just 39pc of the population are covered by a medical card.